Nightman Listens To – The Rolling Stones – Between The Buttons!

Greetings, Glancers! Although I’ve gone on the record numerous times to say that I’m not a Rolling Stones fan (outside of a few notable songs), I happily enjoyed their last album Aftermath. It’s been quite some time since I listened to that album, but today I was in the mood for some more Stones, so here we are.

Looking down the tracklist, I recognise the names of a couple of songs, but I don’t think I’d be able to hum either of them or tell you anything about them. I know I’ve heard the album before, but obviously it made no impact. As always, I’m listening to the UK version of the album. Lets do this.

Yesterday’s Papers: One of the song titles I recognised, and after listening to it I remembered its lead melody. It’s a catchy one, but it highlights one of the problems I have with the album and the band in general; the melodies are always so simplistic, childlike, and repetitive. They’re like a nursery rhyme. They get away with it here because the melody isn’t annoying and the song is short, and the surrounding music is engaging.

My Obsession: Another good song, but it highlights the second problem I have with the band and the album. The fucking honkey tonk piano – get it right out of here. It adds nothing to the song and in fact is to the song’s detriment. Excellent bass and drum work – the drums are one of the highlights of the album. If they simply chose a different piano or tone I wouldn’t mind as much – it doesn’t ruin a good song, but it adds an unnecessary bitter taste.

Back Street Girl: Third good song in a row, and on my first listen I was willing to call myself a fool for not fully embracing the band in my younger days. It’s a sweet melody, even if the lyrics aren’t quite the lovey dovey stuff the music suggests. There’s quite a lot of this ironic wordplay on the album. The childlike, simple vocal melody is here again, but once more the song overcomes this.

Connection: A song with major The Who vibes, a very Swinging 60s feel. The piano doesn’t really need to be there, but at least it’s not in an annoying tone. A decent catchy rocker, but in danger of being easily forgotten.

She Smiled Sweetly: Another good song ensuring the bulk of Side A is strong. Jagger’s vocals are rarely to my taste and another singer would probably ensure this song had a bigger impact on me.

Cool, Calm, And Collected: Right back with the honky tonk. Is that a kazoo in there too? The piano doesn’t run riot through the whole thing – it’s there enough to make me wish it wasn’t, but the energy of the song and the guitar jangling distract me and allow me to give the thumb’s up.

All Sold Out: Kicks off the second half of the album in fairly unremarkable fashion. It’s catchy garage rock with top notch drums, but elsewhere it’s a bit uneventful. Even some tasty licks and flutes don’t do enough to raise this into a stronger tier.

Please Go Home: Feels somewhat chaotic but melodically it’s very similar to a few other tracks on the album. There’s growth and experimentation beyond their first couple of albums, but the emotional impact and melody isn’t quite there for me.

Who’s Been Sleeping Here: I was wondering when the harmonica would make an appearance. This is a much strong song melodically, piano is present but doesn’t really get in the way. Good song all around.

Complicated: This one mainly suffers because it feels like another of the uptempo rock songs on the album without its own identity. The ‘ah-ah-ah-ah’ refrain is catchy though and we have some bubbly organ instead of the piano as well as some dirty fuzz distortion. Not a bad song.

Miss Amanda Jones: The weakest song on the album -a throwback to the weaker blues rock songs on previous albums. It’s not terrible, it’s just yet more of the same without trying to do anything remotely different, and with more shitty piano. Even some squeezy guitar and catchy vocal bits can’t help it.

Something Happened To Me Yesterday: The other song I remembered hearing as soon as it started. It’s a good ending – they resist ruining it with piano and slap some bumpy brass in there instead. It’s a very nursery rhyme melody, but its charm overcomes any nonsense. It should absolutely scrap the talking crap at the end, but I get why it’s there.

Not as strong as Aftermath, but more of the same. Less stand out songs, but generally consistent with teeny flickers of inspiration and experimentation. Plenty of the flaws, or the things I don’t like about the band, are out in force but while these would have annoyed me more in earlier albums the songwriting and confidence here are higher and mean I can overlook them. A few songs make the playlist, but even those aren’t top tier – everything else will likely be forgotten in a matter of days.

Let us know what you think of Between The Buttons in the comments!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Yesterday’s Papers. Back Street Girl. Something Happened To Me Yesterday.

Tell it like it is!

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